Because multiple types of mood disorders exist, it can make it hard for a person to get the diagnosis specific to their condition. While there are some similarities between cyclothymia vs dysthymia, these are two separate mood disorders that require treatment targeted specifically for each one. New View Wellness features several outpatient programs that treat both mental health disorders, including multi-disciplinary therapeutic choices and any necessary medications.

What Is Cyclothymia?

Cyclothymia is a form of bipolar disorder, which falls in the category of a mood disorder. It is considered a less severe type than bipolar I and II because the symptoms are not as extreme. Someone with cyclothymia typically experiences mood shifts that include mild depressive episodes and hypomania. For most, this means going from feeling joyful and manic to a shift into a low period in which they feel very depressed. Between these two mood shifts, a person often feels fairly regular. 

It can take two years or more of experiencing these recurrent cycles in order for a professional to make a diagnosis of cyclothymia. Sadly, many people do not realize they are showing symptoms of this mood disorder and do not seek treatment. Without proper management of the symptoms, a person will have difficulty functioning. As well, they increase their risk of developing bipolar I or II. 

Signs & Symptoms of Cyclothymia

One of the first ways to tell the difference between cyclothymia vs dysthymia has to do with recognizing which signs and symptoms are occurring. Cyclothymia has two categories of signs, which include the following:

Hypomanic symptoms:

  • Feelings of extreme happiness, positivity, and euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Talkative
  • Endless energy
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty focusing on or completing tasks
  • Increased sex drive
  • Sleeping less
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Feelings of agitation

Depressive Symptoms:

  • Extreme feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Feeling guilty or unworthy
  • Loss of interest in usual pastimes
  • Isolating
  • Crying
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Sleeping more often
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

What Is Dysthymia?

Like cyclothymia, dysthymia is also a mood disorder and is often referred to as persistent depressive disorder. It is a milder form of major depressive disorder but typically lasts for a longer period of time, including up to two years at a time. Because it can last for years, it interferes with a person’s quality of life and ability to accomplish many of their daily tasks. Symptoms may occur for a period of time, then subside for less than two months, then start again. 

Dysthymia can be more crippling than depression. It can also be misdiagnosed, with doctors sometimes mistaking it for depression because of the similarities in the conditions. Harvard Medical School reports that approximately 6% of the U.S. population has had at least one episode of dysthymia. Additionally, as many as one-third of all patients seeking psychotherapy may have dysthymia. 

Signs and Symptoms of Dysthymia

In further exploring the difference between cyclothymia vs dysthymia, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of dysthymia. Common ones include:

  • Feelings of extreme sadness
  • Lack of energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Loss of pleasure in usual activities
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Poor self-image or self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings 

Treatment for Cyclothymia vs. Dysthymia in Atlanta, GA

The first step in treating either cyclothymia vs dysthymia involves receiving a full and accurate evaluation of the individual. This will ensure they receive the correct diagnosis, which will allow the person treating them to formulate a plan that works for their specific needs. 

While there are differences in regard to cyclothymia vs dysthymia, treatment for the two conditions does include commonalities. First, both conditions respond well when a person attends regular sessions of psychotherapy. Many treatment professionals use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat both cyclothymia and dysthymia. CBT helps people learn to identify their negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with positive ones. This, in turn, can help reduce stress and improve a person’s mood. 

A combination of psychiatry and med management can also help improve symptoms of both mental health disorders. The prescribing physician will perform an evaluation that will determine which medication provides the best starting point for finding a way to regulate the person’s moods. 

Some people enter a residential program in order to receive treatment for cyclothymia or dysthymia. This requires them to live in a facility for 30 days or more. Many other people respond well to receiving outpatient care for their mental health disorders. Outpatient care programs take place at a skilled facility while allowing the individual to still return to their homes after sessions.

Begin Mental Health Treatment for Cyclothymia or Dysthymia in Atlanta, GA

Do you or someone you love suffer from either cyclothymia or dysthymia? New View Wellness in Atlanta provides a comprehensive treatment program for mood disorders designed to help people manage their symptoms and improve their mental health. Our outpatient plans help people get the targeted care they need while still living at home. This helps take the spotlight off living with a mood disorder and allows a person to focus more on other important parts of their life. 

Contact us today and let us answer any questions you have about our multi-disciplinary mental health treatment programs.